The nihilism of Spielberg's vision
I’ve reached a point where the dark and hopeless war movies aren’t compelling to me anymore. I couldn’t even finish the Pacific. I’ve grown up in a world where all of the war movies are dark and hopeless. That point has already been made so many times that it’s grown stale
I have to go to the shows and movies made around when I was born to see anything with a shred of heroism: Band of Brothers, Gladiator, Braveheart, the Patriot, etc...
"And he did not get Achilles’ glorious fall." Although at the end of the Iliad we know he's going to die shortly, Achilles' death is never portrayed. I think Homer couldn't figure out how to portray it. In Odysseus' journey to the underworld in the Odyssey, he speaks with Achilles, who doesn't seem much more satisfied with his fate than Basilone would have been with his:
"But you, Achilles, there's not a man more blest than you--/there never has been, never will be one./Time was, when you were alive, we Argives/honored you as a god, and now down here, I see, you lord it over the dead in all your power./So grieve no more at dying, great Achilles."/I reassured the ghost, but he broke out, protesting,/"No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus!/By god, I'd rather slave on earth for another man--/some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive--/than rule down here over all the breathless dead." (Odyssey XI:478-491, Fagles translation.)
We lump everything under the banner of the Second World War and then portray it as brave soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy fighting a determined foe where it was just a bunch of young men on both sides with a job to do full of honor and glory. But the war in Northwest Europe was just one war.
The Pacific War was a savage kill-or-be-killed affair. The German-Soviet War the same. I don't know how anyone fought on Iwo Jima or at Stalingrad without losing their goddamn mind
After really liking Band of Brothers, this was a pretty big let down for me.
I loved the E.B. Sledge memoir on which part of this is based ('With the Old Breed'), but they somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with The Pacific.
It's been a long time since I saw it (when it came out), so memory is fuzzy on exactly all the reasons why...